- A former Eastern Cape-based Sassa clerk and her boyfriend have been sentenced for defrauding the agency of more than R1.2 million.
- They used other people's IDs to open bank accounts into which social grants were paid.
- After delaying court proceedings several times, the couple eventually pleaded guilty.
A former clerk at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in the Eastern Cape and her boyfriend were sent to jail on Monday for defrauding the agency to the tune of R1.2 million.
The Mbizana Regional Court sentenced Nombuso Dlamini, 44, and Siyasanga Gqamane, 31, to 10 and eight years' imprisonment respectively. Two years of each of the sentences were suspended for five years on condition the two were not convicted of any offence involving dishonesty.
According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali, Dlamini was employed by Sassa as a clerk responsible for capturing social grant applications from 2006 to 2011. She was in a romantic relationship with Gqamane.
"The couple registered fictitious social grants and used unsuspecting people's identity documents to open bank accounts into which social grant payments were made. Sassa suffered a loss in excess of R1.2 million because of this elaborate scheme," Tyali said.
More than 30 Sassa cards found at their home
The couple was arrested in 2011 following an investigation into the massive scale of social grant payments without the necessary supporting documents. More than 30 bank cards were found at the couple's home. They could not provide any plausible explanation for these cards.
"Initially, Dlamini and Gqamane pleaded not guilty and employed numerous tactics to delay the trial, including changing legal representatives at least three times. After the prosecutor, Senior State Advocate Luyanda Mtengwane, led the evidence of state witnesses, the two changed their plea to guilty," Tyali said.
"Mtengwane argued that only a lengthy jail term was fitting for the crime of defrauding the state, more especially by a government official in the position of trust, because it is becoming more prevalent in the country at large.
"The court agreed, and granted a confiscation order for the forfeiture of assets belonging to the convicted fraudsters to the value of R104 000."